Tag: DAF (Page 2 of 4)

GABI DELGADO 1958 – 2020

Gabi Delgado, lead singer with DEUTSCH AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT, has sadly passed away at the age of 61; the news was announced by his band mate Robert Görl on social media.

Born in Andalusia in Spain, Delgado’s family moved to West Germany to escape the Fascist regime under General Franco. Delgado and Görl met in 1978 as regulars of the punk club Ratinger Hof in Düsseldorf; there they formed DAF with their basic ideas shaped by Delgado doing vocals accompanied by a Stylophone and the classically trained Görl playing drums.

DAF were a reaction to the success of KRAFTWERK; in Rudi Esch’s book ‘ELECTRI_CITY – The Düsseldorf School of Electronic Music’, Delgado said “To me, KRAFTWERK were sounding too boring, too beautiful, too sedate and too sterile” adding “Sequencers and Moroder. That was more important for electronic music than the entire legacy of KRAFTWERK, NEU! and LA DÜSSELDORF”.

Delgado temporarily left DAF so was absent on what became the 1979 instrumental debut album ‘Produkt Der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft’ which was recorded as a four piece also featuring Kurt Dahlke, Michael Kemner and Wolfgang Spelman. Delgado returned and DAF moved to London, signing to Mute Records.

They had attracted the attention of Daniel Miller because “they weren’t relying on past rock”. Produced by the legendary Conny Plank, ‘Die Kleinen Und Die Bosen’ became the first full length album to be released by the iconic label in 1980. Allocated the catalogue number STUMM 1 at the suggestion of DAF as “stumm” was the German word for “mute”, it was a mixed studio and live affair with Delgado demonstrating his aggressive vocal ability with grief stricken screams on raucous punky pieces that barely clocked in at two minutes!

But DAF had impressed and were signed by Virgin Records to record an acclaimed trilogy of albums, all produced by Conny Plank. Now down to just a duo of Delgado and Görl, the pair developed a pioneering sound that was later to become known as Electronic Body Music (or EBM) and Industrial.

Robert Görl had become fascinated by the minimalistic possibilities of using a 16 step Korg SQ-10 analogue sequencer to drive a Korg MS20 and ARP Odyssey to provide body power, while Delgado adopted a Teutonic character to his vocal style that was close to shouting with an inflammatory intensity. That Delgado would not vocalise in English only added to DAF’s mystery and appeal.

On stage, Delgado possessed an almost demonic physical presence, while Görl was often stoic and motionless. Using backing tapes, the live focus was almost totally centred on the front man with his ferocious dancing that made Andy McCluskey from OMD look like a member of KRAFTWERK. Delgado’s sweaty physicality had a homoerotic allure that added a sexual tension to DAF’s chanty electronic punk.

The first Virgin album ‘Alles Ist Gut’ in 1981 featured their fierce breakthrough track ‘Der Mussolini’ which flirted with right wing imagery in its sardonic reflections on ideology. However, combined with DAF’s preference for a militaristic aesthetic, it caused controversy and confused observers, attracting a following which Delgado hated; after all, his parents had escaped from the Franco regime in Spain. But DAF liked to shock and Delgado was always unapologetic about the provocation within his lyrics.

‘Alles Ist Gut’ sold well in Germany, effectively turning Delgado and Görl into popstars! The next two albums ‘Gold Und Liebe’ and ‘Für Immer’ maintained the industrial standard with the latter’s highlight being a re-recording of a 1980 Mute ‘Kebab Träume’. Transformed into something much heavier, the memorable if controversial line “Deutschland, Deutschland, alles ist vorbei!” threw more wood onto the provocation bonfire. But despite the fame, all was not well within DAF and the pair fell out under a haze of sex, drugs and sequencer…

Solo albums were recorded with Delgado releasing ‘Mistress’ on Virgin while Görl issued ‘Night Full Of Tension’ on Mute. But the pair had that certain chemistry and reformed in 1985 to produce their only album in English entitled ‘1st Step to Heaven’. Not only was their language approach different but they softened their sound and look, coming over like a Euroboy band on the ‘Lady Marmalade’ referencing pop tune ‘Voulez Vous Coucher Avec Moi’ while embracing funky New York disco on the cult favourite ‘Brothers’.

However, ‘1st Step To Heaven’ was considered a failure and DAF split again. Delgado found solace and joy in the house and techno scene, organising parties with Westbam, as well as establishing the dance labels Delkom Club Control, BMWW and Sunday Morning Berlin. As 2 GERMAN LATINOS in 1992, he recorded the hypnotic ‘Viva La Droga Electronica’ with Saba Kamossa for Mark Reeder’s MFS label.

While Delgado recorded two albums as DAF/DOS with Wotan Wilke, he inevitably reunited with Görl again in 2003 for the album ‘Fünfzehn Neue DAF Lieder’ which saw a more techno influence entering the template.

The pair continued to reunite for DAF shows, but their legacy which had influenced bands such as DEPECHE MODE, LAIBACH, THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT, NITZER EBB, FRONT 242, NINE INCH NAILS, APOPTYGMA BERZERK, BOYS NOIZE and RAMMSTEIN was celebrated in 2017 with a book and a boxed set, both called ‘Das Ist DAF’.

Released on Grönland Records, the lavish boxed set included ‘Die Kleinen Und Die Bösen’ and the Virgin trilogy, along with remixes by Giorgio Moroder and Westbam among others. But the icing on the cake was what many fans had been waiting for, a brand new DAF single ‘Die Sprache Der Liebe’.

DAF last played London in Autumn 2018 at the Black Celebration event alongside MESH and SUICIDE COMMANDO, while they continued performing throughout Europe in 2019.

Despite most artists mellowing in old age, Gabi Delgado never showed any signs of taming his punky attitude. During a Techno panel as part of the ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE in 2015 at the CCD Conference Centre where a smoking ban was in force, Delgado caused some amusement when he casually lit up a cigarette in the middle of the discussion, reinforcing the rebellious and confrontational aura of DAF.

Stephan Groth of APOPTYGMA BERZERK said “DAF was one of the HUGE inspirations in the early APOP days, and we’ve had nothing but respect and admiration for their output through the years… Gabi, you will stay in our memory ‘Für Immer’. RIP”

Mark Reeder added “So very sad and stunned to hear about Gabi Delgado’s passing. Thank you for the wonderful music and the contribution you made at the start of MFS.”

A fitting tribute came from ‘Das Ist DAF’ biographer Miriam Spies who simply said “Rest in peace amigo. And may there always be enough cigarettes, music and cats where you are now. And orange trees, of course.”


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Simon Helm
24th March 2020

THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT Interview

The musical vehicle of Thomas Lüdke, German EBM veterans THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT first gained wider recognition in Europe with ‘Push!’ in 1986.

THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT’s debut album ‘Current News’ featuring songs like ‘Make A Device’ became a cult favourite, inspiring Norwegian electro rockers APOPTYGMA BERZERK along the way.

Meanwhile, Thomas Lüdke’s towering stage presence and dark alternative club sound made THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT an appealing concert proposition.

Beginning life as THE INVINCIBLE LIMIT, Thomas Lüdke has also been involved in side projects such as GOD IS LSD, SOMA and THE MAO TSE TUNG EXPERIENCE. Although currently very active on the live circuit with a notable opening slot with APOPTYGMA BERZERK on their recent Summer tour, THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT’s last album ‘Anyway’ came out in 2015.

A single entitled ‘Nein!’ was issued in 2017, but with the release of possibly his most accessible song yet in ‘Coming Home’, Thomas Lüdke has promised a new album very soon. In a break from recording, Thomas Lüdke spoke about the past, present and future of THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT.

How did THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT come to its tense Teutonic electronic sound?

I never had the impression of sounding particularly Teutonic. But the harder electronic bass sounds, I liked very much when I started to make music. Maybe it’s the influence of the dark basement where I started. 🙂

Many people also claimed the early TIS sound was very grim. I, on the other hand, always had a positive attitude. Probably you cannot just deny its origin. 🙂

Was it always your intention to work solo in THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT?

No, in the beginning I always wanted a band. And I formed this band for my first project. But since there were different opinions in the approach, I decided to start a second project with THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT. There I composed the music alone and had only guest musicians for live performances.

Had DAF and DIE KRUPPS been much of an influence on you?

DIE KRUPPS rather less, but mostly it was FAD GADGET, KRAFTWERK, DAF and JEAN MICHEL JARRE (in that order). In addition, during my childhood I was influenced by Rock ‘n’ Roll (Beatles, Buddy Holly) and Country (Johnny Cash). My dad liked to hear this music and he also played me DAF for the first time. 🙂

How did you decide that you would express yourself in English rather than German?

I think English words sound better with my music. Maybe I’m also negatively influenced by Deutsche Schlager music, I do not really like this kind of music. 🙂

Your breakthrough was with ‘Push!’, can your remember what happened from recording the song to it getting heard?

When the song was finished in one night, I went to my favourite nightclub the next day and the DJ played the song. The response was immediately very good. Many people came to the DJ and wanted to know if this is already available. Also my record label Last Chance Records was immediately enthusiastic and released the record in a short time. It was almost an instant success.

How do you look back on the ‘Current News’ album released by ZYX Records?

I did ‘Current News’ under a certain pressure of time. After the success of ‘Push’, the label wanted to quickly release a long-playing record. I was very dissatisfied with some songs and especially the studio sound. This could have been better. Nevertheless, it seems to have been received well by many people.

What synthesizers and machines were you using then? Did you have a favourite?

I have worked a lot with Kawai SX-210, Casio CZ-5000, Yamaha TX-802, Yamaha TG-77 and Yamaha RX-5. I first used the built-in sequencer of the CASIO CZ-5000 for ‘Push!’ and ‘Make A Device’. Later I used the Atari ST with the Notator / Creator software. The TX-802 is still one of my favourites. Except for the RX-5 drum machine, I still have all the devices.

Was ‘Make A Device’ a reflection of the Cold War tensions of the period?

Of course, like many people back then, I was also worried that somebody would “push the button”. But otherwise I was and am rather an apolitical person. But ‘Make A Device’ is more about not falling into lethargy and getting your life under control. But of course, it cannot be ruled out that the “Basic Sadness” was created by the signs of the times. 🙂

You recorded two more albums ‘The Rollercoaster Revolution’ and ‘Can Sex Be Sin’, but then things went comparatively quiet for THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT until the ‘Faster Life’ EP, what happened?

There was a burden of ‘Push!’. My music for some time was always reduced to this song. Also the record label and the management wanted me to do something like ‘Push!’ again. Also in this business, you often meet people who just want to take advantage of you. When I realised this, I needed a break and distance from these people. I still played live and composed new songs. But I just did not publish these songs anymore.

What made you decide on a ‘comeback’?

As I said, I did live performances all the time. The spark was only in the year 2012, it flared up again at a performance at the WGT in Leipzig. The audience’s resonance was so overwhelming that I decided to get really active again, but this time with the plan to take everything completely in my own hands, without a record label or management. So in 2015, I founded my own record label.

The 2015 album ‘Anyway’ had a lot of songs, it was like you had a lot of feelings bottled up to channel into music again?

On ‘Anyway’, there are many songs that have emerged over the years, but these usually were only in a demo song character. For ‘Anyway’, I picked it up again and composed it to the end. As a result, the album became very varied. I’ve never followed just one musical genre anyway. I like being diverse.

Was the mighty ‘Hate You’ based on personal experience? Had making the song been cathartic?

‘Hate You’ is more to be seen with a smile. I did not really felt hate for anyone or anything when I wrote the song. But of course, it’s fun to let out the feelings during live performances. In addition, ‘Hate You’ for me is the official successor to ‘Push!’. So for live performances, I mix the songs a bit together. 🙂

Do you feel that the modern environment of social media, downloading and streaming makes things easier or more difficult for an artist like yourself?

Well, on the one hand, it makes me a bit more independent of the music industry. On the other hand, the ways a song distributes itself on the internet are hard to control for a small label.

YouTube and Facebook etc are difficult to contact. When I uploaded ‘Push!’ to my YouTube channel for the first time in 2015, the channel was closed for a few weeks and I was accused of copyright infringement. I then clicked through YouTube for a long time and also clicked the hook for a legal dispute. Then it was quiet again and they finally understood. 🙂

What is ‘Irregular Times’ which was recorded as THE MAO TSE TUNG EXPERIENCE about?

It is about a teacher who despairs of the increasing lack of interest in his students. And he holds that out to them, in an ironic way. The original singer of the song Wilfried Peffgen was a teacher. Unfortunately, he died a few years ago, at the age of 70.

The new single ‘Coming Home’ has already been performed live and is maybe lighter than some of your other material, what was it inspired by and how did it develop as a song?

Actually, I had been working on a different song when I had the idea to the main melody of ‘Coming Home’. I stayed with it and finished the song in one day. The text basically treats the feeling of coming home from a few concert days and looking forward to seeing the familiar faces again.

You recently remixed ‘Backdraft’ for APOPTYGMA BERZERK and toured with them, how did this kinship begin and continue?

It was Per Aksel Lundgreen, who wrote me a few months ago on Facebook and made me the offer for the remix. Back then, he told me the story of how Stephan Groth of APOPTYGMA BERZERK became inspired to make music himself after hearing the ‘Current News’ album. Stephan liked my remix and he offered me, to support APOP on the German tour.

What do you think has been your proudest moment as THE INVISIBLE SPIRIT, either with an occasion, or a song or an acknowledgement?

This was the moment at the E-Tropolis in Oberhausen, when Stephan from APOP first told the story that he became a musician himself through my music.

I have already been told this by some bands, but no-one has publicly stated so far. That made me very proud. 🙂

What’s next for THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT?

Work on a new album is in full swing. Unfortunately, everyday life occasionally throws you back a little. Otherwise, it would already be finished. But I’m still in a good mood 🙂


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Thomas Lüdke

‘Coming Home’ is released as a digital single via the usual platforms, while the album ‘Anyway’ is also still available

THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT play 6 Jahre KatzenCLUB-FESTIVAL in Munich with DIVE + TYING TIFFANY on Saturday 2nd November 2019

https://www.the-invincible-spirit.de/

https://www.facebook.com/InvincibleSpiritOriginal/

https://twitter.com/invinciblesp

https://www.instagram.com/the.invincible.spirit/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5leTuVWMEcXFeyMuFeCv5J


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
14th October 2019

FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY Interview

Photo by Bobby Talamine

Bill Leeb is unimpressed with the Super Bowl half-time show. The best the NFL could muster for the break in the biggest game in the American sports season was MAROON 5, who showed twice as many nipples as Janet Jackson and a tenth of the melody of Taylor Swift.

We’re speaking the day after the event, but not about Tom Brady’s passing game. Leeb’s main band, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, has a new album to share.

‘Wake Up The Coma’, the latest from Canada’s electro-industrial pioneers, is loaded with energy and makes a number of surprising plays. We start by asking why FLA weren’t asked to do the half-time show.

Leeb: Because I don’t have enough tattoos. I gotta say, if I put a tattoo across my chest, stating Vancouver, that would be kind of a big statement.

On stage, Leeb is an imposing figure, even without his hometown etched into his skin. The former SKINNY PUPPY keyboardist prowls the boards with a shock of blond hair rising above him. When he points at the audience, you half expect lightning to take out the front row. He’s always drawn attention for his looks. When he moved to Canada as a teenager, the Austrian stood out.

Photo by Bobby Talamine

Leeb: The craziest thing is my first girlfriend in Vancouver, Debbie Jones, who is no longer with us, approached me at a nightclub because these guys were harassing her table. She asked if she could sit with me.  I used to get this question all the time, because of my hair: “Hey, are you in a band?” I think I’ve been asked that more than anything my entire life.

The meeting with Jones led to another important connection.

Leeb: We started chit-chatting, and the next thing you know she knew cEvin [Key] from SKINNY PUPPY. They met because Debbie and her cousin Donna were driving through a park, and cEvin pulled up in a black Monte Carlo with swivel seats. He rolled down the window and said, “Hey, do you guys want to smoke a joint?” Debbie said, “OK, yeah, sure.” There was also Gary [Smith] from Images in Vogue. So it all started with that group of people. When I think back now, it’s a bit like a movie how we all met up together.

With cEvin Key, Leeb struck up both a friendship and a friendly rivalry to find the latest obscure sounds from around the world. Their bible was the Contact List of Electronic Music (CLEM), an annotated directory of record stores and labels involved in the DIY tape and record scenes.

Leeb: One of the first things that got me going was a magazine called CLEM. That was one of our key influences. In there was all the PORTION CONTROL, ATTRITION and LUSTMORD. They had all the contacts, and you could write to all these people, and I think that was the big key for us. Me and cEvin being competitive, of course, we started writing to all these artists.

Back then, you could send an IRC [International Reply Coupon], which was a coupon you could buy at the post office that could be exchanged overseas for stamps. 

We started collecting cassettes from all these artists, and I still have lots of them. Me and cEvin would meet up, and it would be, “I’ve got a cassette from Edward Ka-Spel or In Phaze Records or PORTION CONTROL.” So, we started a bit of a collection war, and that’s how we got onto a lot of those artists.

Crate digging was the other way that the two friends found the sounds that connected them to the industrial and electronic scenes on the other side of the world.

 Leeb: Odyssey Imports and Quintessence Records were the two main stores in Vancouver which continuously, every week, brought in 12” vinyls from the UK and Germany. The UK pressings were better than those from anywhere else, so every Monday we would go down and wait to see what was going on. I remember cEvin turned me on to FAD GADGET. One day, he was standing beside me in the record store and he pulled out that album, Fireside Favourites, and said, “Have you heard this?” I go, “No.” And he says, “Great album – check it out!” And, of course, I became a huge FAD GADGET fan.

Still, Leeb gives a lot of credit to CLEM and its publisher, Alex Douglas.

Leeb: He was way ahead of the curve, as far all those bands. We got half of our contacts and info from that guy. That magazine was invaluable.

It was through CLEM and the underground cassette scene that Leeb became aware of Third Mind, a British label, and its guiding force, Gary Levermore. Third Mind would go on to release Front Line Assembly in the UK and organise shows for the innovative band.

Leeb: The thing that got me on to Gary was when he released Rising from the Red Sand. That was in CLEM magazine, and it had PORTION CONTROL, ATTRITION, BUSHIDO, LUSTMORD – it just went on and on. That was probably the best of the cassette compilations – song for song, that was probably the best one. 

Another great thing that me and cEvin used to do was stay up all night with our group of people, getting wasted and high, and we would find phone numbers for these artists. Come Sunday morning, we would call them. One time, we called PORTION CONTROL at three in the morning here – because the UK is eight hours ahead. Some guy would answer the phone, like Ian [Sharp of PORTION CONTROL], and be, “Hello?” 

We’d be, “Hey, this is cEvin and Bill. We really love your music.” I think they were taken aback that we would call them. It was a different time. You can’t do shit like that now. You’d probably send an email or something. 

It was a much bigger deal back then to get something like that – to get a cassette. I guess these guys over there, if you needed a cassette, they would just run one off.

One of Vancouver’s natural advantages is its permanent place on the North American tour map for interesting artists. Pity music fans from Winnipeg, who were in overflight territory for bands like SIMPLE MINDS and DEPECHE MODE.

Leeb: The crazy thing about DEPECHE MODE is I saw them the very first time they came to Canada, because Images in Vogue – cEvin’s band – opened for them at the Commodore. You know, cEvin and Gary and Joe had the latest and greatest stuff. They had all of that onstage and played. Then DEPECHE MODE, the original line-up, came onstage, and all they had was one keyboard – a small one – and they had an 8-track on the chair behind them. No visuals – that was it. When I think that I saw them last year at the Rogers Arena in front of 80,000 people…

At the first show, there were maybe only 400 people there, and they were up there with only one keyboard. We laughed then, because Images had all the gear and those guys didn’t, but who knew that they were going to be as massive as they were? Who puts a tape player on a chair behind them? But people were different back then.

That isn’t to say that everyone was open to the harder, darker electronics that Leeb and his friends were getting into.

Leeb: I was with cEvin the night he went to Images in Vogue’s manager and said, “I’m leaving the band and starting a new band called SKINNY PUPPY.” Kim Clarke Champniss was the manager of Images, and he was basically telling cEvin, “You’re crazy! Images is on a major; they’ve opened for Roxy and Duran – and you’re going to start a band called SKINNY PUPPY?! Are you crazy?” I was there just for support. And I think SKINNY PUPPY turned out to be ok, right?

The first support for their new approach came from the country that was producing many of the artists Leeb and Key had been discovering – England.

Leeb: For the very first review we got with SKINNY PUPPY – for Remission – me and cEvin went down to Odyssey Imports. There was a guy in Sounds [one of the weekly music tabloids from the UK] called Dave Henderson who ran a weekly thing called Wild Planet – he was another forerunner, encouraging those bands. He wrote a review, and we were walking down the street with it. It said, ”From the land of Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot, there is a new electronic band by the name of SKINNY PUPPY. Who do these guys think they are?”

 cEvin was so excited about this guy acknowledging us and saying he liked the album Remission. We’re reading this as we’re storming down the street, and he’s like, ”Bill, look – someone in the UK knows who SKINNY PUPPY is!” Henderson called us all the Wild Planet bands. It was another key factor in this movement, way in the very early days.

Once he was touring with FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, Leeb got to know some of those bands better.

Leeb: We toured with PORTION CONTROL and did remixes with them. We became friends with Edward Ka-Spel and he and cEvin did THE TEAR GARDEN. Debbie Jones actually went out with Edward for a while – the girl who had brought us all together. Me and Gary Levermore have been really good friends. All those early tours we did through his label in Europe – we became a huge family. It was quite a movement for quite a while – thirty years.

The influence of those cassette-trading pioneers is still being felt.

Leeb: It spawned the things like, in Europe, the M’era Luna festival and Wave-Gotik-Treffen festival –  Amphi. Every band there – whether AND ONE or COVENANT, any of these bands – got their cue from that movement. Not just us, but the whole movement.

Half the bands that are industrial still sound like SKINNY PUPPY or were motivated by that sound. We were motivated by PORTION CONTROL with that distorted, angry vocal – I’d never heard anyone do that before! People were so brainwashed with rock and roll back then. If you think about the whole Gothic world, our world had a lot to do with bringing that forward.

Of course, you had your German bands like DAF – another groundbreaker. FRONT 242 were there, too. They came along during the early SKINNY PUPPY days. That all created a healthy, thriving world in itself. It maybe wasn’t as big as hip hop, but still… NINE INCH NAILS opened for SKINNY PUPPY when it was just Trent for a while and he’s kind of done ok, right? The whole Marilyn Manson thing. It’s spawned a couple of decades of music and it’s still going strong in its own way. It’s still an alternative to all that other stuff, like MAROON 5. It’s so narcissistic, all that world of new popstars now: half the day at the gym; half the day at the tattoo parlour. It’s a whole different mindset.

‘Wake Up The Coma’ features several collaborations. A notable one ‘Eye On You’ with Robert Görl of DAF, opens the album.

Leeb: We met at M’era Luna and another festival. We all hung out backstage, and I kind of hunted him down. One time, they played right after us and we were hanging out backstage, waiting to change, and I just started talking to him. I was such a huge fan, and the first couple of DAF albums were groundbreaking – kind of like the whole Mute and DEPECHE MODE world. We just started chatting in German, and he’s a super nice guy, and next thing you know we were doing the track.

We were going to get him to sing on the song, but he had some things he had to deal with at the time and we couldn’t get it all together – but that was a good start. 

If I think back to twenty five years ago, that I would actually get to do a track with someone like him – I would have thought was far-fetched. That was kind of cool for me. A final thing, as we fade into the future mist.

”David Bowie” even makes a surprise appearance on the last track ‘Structures’.

Leeb: I asked Chris [Connelly], because he does that SONS OF THE SILENT AGE. It’s very popular. They do a couple of Bowie albums every year. I asked him to use that approach to a song. When we did that tour with REVOLTING COCKS in America, it was such a success. Every show sold out. We became really good friends with Richard 23 and Chris and Paul Barker. It was a very fun tour, and everyone was very professional and friendly, so I took the liberty to ask Chris when we became friends and he agreed [snaps fingers] just like that.

The song that will make or break the album might actually be a cover. FLA’s version of Falco’s ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ will surprise a lot of fans with its audacity. It’s not an obvious choice; but, infused with intensity by Rhys Fulber’s programming, and shorn of the wigs and powder of the original, it could be a cross-over hit. They have had those before in their DELERIUM guise.

Leeb: I thought that, having been born and raised in Austria, and being Austrian, there was enough of a connection to do that song. I felt like something foreign and I like classical music, so I hope that the Mayor of Vienna gives me the key to the city and that song gets on Viva rotation. I’m curious to see how much hate and love we get over it. Rhys is loving it. He’s like, “Everyone is going to hate it!” Well, ok, that’s cool. When you hear the original and ours, they are quite different. Jimmy [Urine] is the king of irony. The way he does the song has a hint of humour in it. In the studio, he had it in two or three takes – in German!

Even with covers and collaborations, ‘Wake Up The Coma’ hangs together incredibly well. It’s a mature, sophisticated FLA release. The unifying theme, if there is one, is contact.

Leeb: Jeremy [Inkel] sent me some demos, and the day after he passed away we were supposed to speak. After ‘Echogenetic’, Rhys was back in the picture. It was so crazy, and we put this record together with bits and pieces of these guys. I made new friends with Robert and Chris. Three of the songs came from Ian Pickering. ‘Wake Up The Coma’ was from one of his songs. He was the guy who wrote a bunch of lyrics for SNEAKER PIMPS. We became friends with him through somebody else.

‘Wake Up The Coma’ is with the guy from PARADISE LOST [Nick Holmes]; he does the vocals. Rhys produced a couple of PARADISE LOST albums and they became good friends. It was a weird, big, crazy thing. Rhys summed it up, with all the craziness and Jeremy’s passing: “I guess we’re a real band now.”


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to Bill Leeb

Special thanks to Gary Levermore at Red Sand PR

‘Wake Up The Coma’ is released by Metropolis Records, in double vinyl LP, CD and digital formats, available from https://frontlineassembly.bandcamp.com/

http://www.mindphaser.com/

https://www.facebook.com/frontlineassembly/

https://twitter.com/f7a

https://www.instagram.com/front.line.assembly.official/

https://www.metropolis-records.com/artist/front-line-assembly


Text and Interview by Simon Helm
Photos by Simon Helm except where credited
16th February 2019

CONNY PLANK The Potential Of Noise

“With this noise, I can try to find if it is possible to make music out of it…”

‘The Potential Of Noise’ is a touching insight into the late Conny Plank, undoubtedly one of the most innovative and important studio exponents in popular music.

Directed by his son Stephan with Reto Caduff, the film sees him embarking on a journey to rediscover his father’s impact and his importance in music history.

As the studio in the converted farmhouse in Wolperath, half an hour’s drive from Cologne, was also the family home, Stephan grew up around the artists who his father worked with.

John Foxx is one artist who considers Conny Plank to be the most important record producer since George Martin, having recorded ULTRAVOX’s ‘Systems Of Romance’ album with him in 1978. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK also has spoken to a number of the musicians who Conny Plank worked with and all had nothing but affectionate memories of him.

Eberhard Kranemann, a one-time member of KRAFTWERK who later recorded an album ‘Fritz Müller Rock’ with Plank said: “He was a very important man, for me in the last century he was the most important producer, engineer and mixer in the whole world, THE BEST! He was so great that he even turned down David Bowie and U2. He was very honest, he didn’t want to work with them.”

DAF drummer and instrumentalist Robert Görl who made four albums with Plank went further, saying “He was almost like a father to me, we lived at the studio so it was all very familiar. We had a room and slept there, we would go down in the morning and he would be making breakfast while his girlfriend Christa Fast would make cakes. It was a very homely feeling that we remember most. And this made it easier for us to feel good and create without having a heavy head.”

“To work with him was always a pleasure” said Bodo Staiger of RHEINGOLD, “he was relaxed, very competent and had the talent to listen what the artist wants. And he also brought some good ideas and inspiration. For example, the percussive synth sound on ‘Dreiklangsdimensionen’ was his idea.”

Michael Rother remembered “he was so valuable… we wouldn’t have been able to record NEU! or the second HARMONIA album or my solo albums without Conny, so he’s all over the place in my music… thank you Conny.”

With such compliments, any film featuring prominent figures such as Midge Ure, Daniel Miller and David A Stewart recounting their memories of working with Conny Plank was likely to be fascinating. But for his son Stephan who was only 13 years old when Plank passed away in December 1987, this bittersweet film has been a journey to understand more about his father while confronting his demons of being neglected.

The key to Plank’s success was undoubtedly his personality rather than his actual technique and his ability to get the best out of the people, something he felt he wouldn’t be able to do working with David Bowie or U2. Today, Plank’s custom hand-built 56 channel mixing desk is owned by David M Allen, another producer known for his warm outlook and gift for providing an environment for artists to excel.

For those who perhaps only know Plank’s work through KRAFTWERK and ULTRAVOX, the soundtrack that accompanies ‘The Potential Of Noise’ is an education, with the instrumental music of NEU! and CLUSTER & ENO being particularly effective. Among the interviewees are the late Holger Czukay, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Michael Rother, Robert Görl, Karl Hyde, Jaz Coleman, Annette Humpe, Gianna Nannini and many more.

Daniel Miller describes Plank’s work as experimental but still musical, while Robert Görl and Annette Humpe recall how Plank was particularly good at capturing the right mood for recording with “no rules”. And while Plank only produced the debut EURYTHMICS album ‘In The Garden’, David A Stewart applied that hippy with technology philosophy to their breakthrough second album ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’, mixing electronics with brass in a converted church studio.

Although recorded at RAK Studios in London, Midge Ure remembers after playing the demo of ‘Vienna’, ULTRAVOX talked musically about the plans for recording while Plank thought in terms of sound; he imagined an old man at a piano in a desolate theatre who had been playing the same tune for forty years. And when Billy Currie came to record his ivory parts, that was exactly the feel which Plank had engineered for the now iconic track.

For Plank, money and tapes were things that passed through his life, but his generosity is apparent throughout this documentary, both financially and in spirit. Michael Rother talks of how Plank helped to fund the recording of the first NEU! album to ensure that the duo had as much independence as possible to create, while it is also known he had offered to finance the recording of the first Midge Ure fronted ULTRAVOX album before the band signed to Chrysalis Records.

The most emotional recollections of Conny Plank come from hip-hop duo WHODINI who consider Conny’s Studio to be the best facility that they have ever recorded in, while also glowing about the effort which Plank made towards providing a recording environment that was as comfortable as possible, something the pair never experienced again after that visit to Germany.

But despite the generosity to his artists, the film tells of how Plank was not exactly the perfect father to Stephan, with Holger Czukay remembering that Plank treated Stephan as Christa Fast’s son, rather than his own.

It’s a point also highlighted by Annette Humpe who tellingly, actually asks Stephan on camera whether his father ever took him out into the countryside; it turned out he did… but for just one afternoon.

Resigned to the fact that few photos exist of them together, Stephan reflects that the best memento of his father now is his vast catalogue of work. Plank’s own end is sad, with him becoming too ill to mix EURYTHMICS ‘Revenge’ album following returning from a concert tour in South America with Dieter Moebius.

Despite Christa nursing him back to near health with a new diet regime, Plank’s need to work ultimately consumed him and worsened his condition, eventually leading to the cancer to which he succumbed to.

The film concludes with Stephan taking his own young family to Wolperath to see his former home, reminiscing about the bathroom where the gold and platinum discs used to hang, as well as the dining area where the family and the visiting artists used to sit. With the final words of the documentary, Midge Ure summarises that the music Plank made was timeless and ultimately outlived him.

Described by KILLING JOKE’s Jaz Coleman as “a revolutionary”, when the end credits roll of ‘The Potential Of Noise’, it’s rather appropriately to the proto-punk of ‘Hero’ by NEU!


‘The Potential Of Noise’ is released on DVD by Cleopatra Entertainment

The 4CD box set ‘Who’s That Man: A Tribute To Conny Plank’ is available via Grönland Records ‎

https://www.facebook.com/Conny-Plank-21971244034/

http://cleopatra-entertainment.com/conny-plank-the-potential-of-noise/

http://groenland.com/en/artist/conny-plank-2/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
15th January 2019

25 ALBUM VERSIONS THAT ARE BETTER THAN THE SINGLE VERSIONS

As long as there has been a music business, artists and producers have been forever tinkering with their work.

While often, it’s the single version made for mass consumption through radio play that remains superior and best loved, there are occasions when the album take reigns supreme.

Often there’s a track that is the obvious standout on the long player, but sometimes it can be of a structure that is considered too long for peak time radio where instant gratification is the key. On other occasions, the vision of the track for album consumption is reconsidered following an earlier short form release produced on a more limited budget.

So as a companion list to the earlier 25 Single Versions That Are Better Than The Album Versions listings feature and restricted to one track per artist, here are 25 Album Versions That Are Better Than The Single Versions presented in chronological and then alphabetical order…


GIORGIO From Here To Eternity (1977)

Despite being a hit single, ‘From Here To Eternity’ was actually something of a disjointed disco medley, throwing in a section of the album track ‘Utopia – Me Giorgio’ halfway through. The full six minute ‘From Here To Eternity’ from the long player of the same name was a futuristic slice of electronic dance perfection, with Giorgio Moroder steadily building on his throbbing synth backbone and layers of vocoder punctuated by the steady beats of drummer Keith Forsey.

Available on the GIORGIO album ‘From Here To Eternity’ via Repertoire Records

https://www.giorgiomoroder.com/


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Being Boiled (1980)

The original Fast Product single version of ‘Being Boiled’ from 1978 had its own charm, recorded as mono demo which was subsequently released. However, having signed to Virgin Records and with a budget behind them, Messrs Marsh, Oakey and Ware took the opportunity to update their calling card with producer John Leckie for the ‘Travelogue’ album to more fully realise its funky overtones inspired by FUNKADELIC. The end result was fuller and more dynamic.

Available on THE HUMAN LEAGUE album ‘Travelogue’ via Virgin Records

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk/


JAPAN Nightporter (1980)

‘Ghosts’ had been an unexpected singles success for JAPAN in 1982 and Virgin Records wanted more of the same with ‘Nightporter’, despite it being already two years old and with the previously unreleased song ‘Some Kind Of Fool’ in the vaults. Trimming the solemn seven minute ivory laden Satie homage was always going to be difficult and the horrific radio edit butchered out the lengthy if vital instrumental climax of melancholic Oberheim OBX strings. Less really does mean less…

Available on the JAPAN album ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ via Virgin Records

http://www.nightporter.co.uk/


SIMPLE MINDS I Travel (1980)

The album version of ‘I Travel’ was only four minutes in the first place, yet original label Arista Records felt the need to chop the track on both single edits it released and neuter its impact. SIMPLE MINDS never fully realised their potential until they signed to Virgin Records and ‘I Travel’ heralded a futuristic art rock phase where the band’s Germanic influences, coupled to synthesized disco aesthetics of Giorgio Moroder, found favour at clubs like The Blitz.

Available on the SIMPLE MINDS album ‘Empires & Dance’ via Virgin Records

https://www.simpleminds.com/


KRAFTWERK Computer Love (1981)

Whether ‘Autobahn’, ‘Radio-Activity’, ‘Showroom Dummies’, ‘Trans-Europe Express’, ‘Neon Lights’ or ‘The Robots’, the sheer average length of a KRAFTWERK track made them difficult to apply to the single format and ‘Computer Love’ was no different. A beautifully melodic piece that predicted internet dating and stretched to just under seven minutes with its glorious second half synth solo in its album version, it was like the reel of the film was missing in its edited form.

Available on the KRAFTWERK album ‘Computer World’ via EMI Records

http://www.kraftwerk.com/


BLANCMANGE Waves (1982)

A UK Top 20 single for BLANCMANGE in 1983, ‘Waves’ was remixed and given an orchestral treatment arranged by Linton Naiff, but it strangely detracted from the bare emotion of the song. Sounding like Scott Walker fronting OMD, with a more basic synthesized construction and a sombre detuned brass line allowed to breathe at the song’s conclusion, the album version sans orchestra was much better. However, the original cut has yet to be reinstated on reissues of the parent long player ‘Happy Families’.

Available on the BLANCMANGE album ‘The Very Best Of’ via Music Club Deluxe

http://www.blancmange.co.uk/


DAF Kebab Träume (1982)

Originally recorded for a 1980 single on Mute Records in more of a band format featuring guitar and hand-played synths, ‘Kebab Träume’ was subsequently reworked by DAF in a more superior fashion under the production supervision of the legendary Conny Plank for their third and final Virgin-era long player ‘Für Immer’. Transforming into something much heavier, the memorable if controversial line “Deutschland, Deutschland, alles ist vorbei!” had more bite on this album version also issued as a single.

Available on the DAF album ‘Für Immer’ via Grönland Records

https://www.groenland.com/en/artist/deutsch-amerikanische-freundschaft/


LUSTANS LAKEJER Läppar Tiger, Ögon Talar (1982)

Sweden’s LUSTANS LAKEJER came to international attention when their third long player ‘En Plats I Solen’ was produced by Richard Barbieri of JAPAN. With its synthesized atmospheres and art funk aspirations not that far off DURAN DURAN, ‘Läppar Tiger, Ögon Talar’ was one of the album’s highlights. But for the later single version produced by Kai Erixon, the band opted for a more laid back swing arrangement punctuated by a brass section, which frankly was not as good as the original.

Available on the LUSTANS LAKEJER album ‘En Plats I Solen’ via Universal Music

https://www.facebook.com/LustansLakejer/


GARY NUMAN We Take Mystery (1982)

The single version of ‘We Take Mystery’ which was Gary Numan’s last UK Top 10 hit was too short and the extended 12 inch version was too long, which left the album version from ‘I, Assassin’ as the best take of the song. With its crashing Linn Drum snap and fretless bass with live percussion syncopating on top, this was a dancefloor friendly excursion which concluded with a marvellous additional rhythm guitar breakdown from fretless bassist Pino Palladino.

Available on the GARY NUMAN album ‘I, Assassin’ via Beggars Banquet

https://garynuman.com/


VISAGE The Anvil (1982)

Remixed by John Luongo for single release, ‘The Anvil’ ended up as a B-side but while the sound of metal-on-metal was added, it somehow had less presence than the original album version. Possessing far Teutonic tension with some superb guitar work from Midge Ure, metronomic drumming courtesy of Rusty Egan minus his hi-hats, Billy Currie’s superb screaming ARP Odyssey and Dave Formula’s brassy synth riff completed Steve Strange’s tale of debauchery for one of the best ever VISAGE tracks.

Available on the VISAGE album ‘The Anvil’ via Cherry Pop

https://www.discogs.com/artist/3479-Visage


JOHN FOXX Endlessy (1983)

By 1982, John Foxx has rediscovered his love of early PINK FLOYD, THE BEATLES and psychedelia which manifested itself in ‘Endlessy’. Based around a tom heavy Linn Drum programme, deep cello samples and sitars, it was an interesting if messy experimental romp. Come his third album ‘The Golden Section’ recorded under the helm of producer Zeus B Held, the new version, also released as a revisionist single, was much more focussed with an accessible uptempo electronic euphoria.

Available on the JOHN FOXX album ‘The Golden Section’ via Edsel Records

http://www.metamatic.com/


HEAVEN 17 And That’s No Lie (1984)

A sub-ten minute progressive epic was never going to work as an edited single and with ‘And That’s No Lie’, that’s exactly what happened. The original album version was HEAVEN 17’s ambitious adventure in sound and fusion that threw in everything from abstract sonic experiments, jazz piano, Fairlight samples, the gospel voices of ARFRODIZIAK and an orchestra, plus some excellent live bass and guitar work from John Wilson and Ray Russell respectively.

Available on the HEAVEN 17 album ‘How Men Are’ via Virgin Records

https://www.heaven17.com/


ARCADIA The Flame (1985)

ARCADIA was Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor’s attempt to be JAPAN during the DURAN DURAN artistic hiatus, but many of the songs from the short-lived side project were smothered in a pond of self-indulgence. One of the highlights though was ‘The Flame’, basically ‘A View To A Kill Part 2’. However for its single release, a neo-acapella intro was applied rather than the frantic percussive beginning of the album version which robbed the song of its tension and impact.

Available on the ARCADIA album ‘So Red The Rose’ via EMI Records

http://www.duranduran.com/


DEAD OR ALIVE My Heart Goes Bang (1985)

Having got DIVINE into the UK charts, Stock Aitken & Waterman gave the same treatment to DEAD OR ALIVE, scoring a No1 with ‘You Spin Me Round’. The resultant album ‘Youthquake’ had a number of excellent tracks including ‘My Heart Goes Bang’ which was ripe single material. But the single remix by regular PWL associate Phil Harding was horrible, throwing in the kitchen sink with voice cut-ups and an overdriven rhythm section which drowned out any merits the song originally had.

Available on the DEAD OR ALIVE album ‘Youthquake’ via Sony Music

https://www.discogs.com/artist/46720-Dead-Or-Alive


NEW ORDER Bizarre Love Triangle (1986)

Inspired by a News Of The World headline, ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ is one of the best loved NEW ORDER tunes. The rugged self-produced original version that appeared on the ‘Brotherhood’ album was a glorious electronic number with a slight mechanical offbeat and space for Hooky’s distinctive bass. But the version released for 45 RPM consumption was a frustrating, four-to-the-floor remix by Shep Pettibone which took all the character out of the song with a barrage of overdriven percussive samples.

Available on the NEW ORDER album ‘Brotherhood’ via Warner Music

http://www.neworder.com/


TALK TALK Living In Another World (1986)

Although ‘Living In Another World’ was the best song on ‘The Colour Of Spring’, it was always going to be a tall order to successfully cut its seven minutes in half for single consumption! A fine progressive combination of synthetic strings, piano, Hammond organ, hypnotic bass, acoustic and electric guitars, percolating percussion and harmonica, the TALK TALK sound would have been nothing however without the anguished vocals of Mark Hollis and the production skills of Tim Friese-Greene.

Available on the TALK TALK album ‘The Colour Of Spring’ via EMI Records

https://www.facebook.com/Talk-Talk-Mark-Hollis-12307963901/


CAMOUFLAGE The Great Commandment (1988)

German trio CAMOUFLAGE had a hit with ‘The Great Commandment’ all over the world including the US, with only Britain remaining ambivalent to their industrial flavoured synthpop. As with many singles of the period, it clocked in at just over three minutes but sounded rushed. Come the debut album ’Voices & Images’ and ‘The Great Commandment’ was more fully realised, allowing space to prevail in the one of the best DEPECHE MODE tracks that the Basildon boys never recorded.

Available on the CAMOUFLAGE album ‘Voices & Images’ via Metronome Music

http://www.camouflage-music.com/


THE BLUE NILE Headlights On The Parade (1989)

Enigmatic Glaswegian trio THE BLUE NILE were never an easy sell to the wider marketplace and the Bob Clearmountain single remix of ‘Headlights On The Parade’ was hopeless, with over a third of the emotively atmospheric number absent for the sake of radio play. The centrepiece of the brilliant ‘Hats’ album, its haunting piano, swaths of synths and a collage of modulated sequences needed a full six minutes to truly convey its solemn drive and rainy cinematic melodrama.

Available on THE BLUE NILE album ‘Hats’ via Epstein Records

http://www.thebluenile.org/


THE GRID Floatation (1990)

Subsonically remixed by Andrew Weatherall with a distinct chilled-out flavour and an additional vocal from Sacha Souter for single release, the brilliant album version of ‘Floatation’ had a more rigid KRAFTWERK feel echoing elements of ‘Tour De France’. And as the track drew towards the home straight, Julian Stringle’s clarinet brought to mind the aesthetics of Dave Ball’s previous residency in SOFT CELL. But while those woodwind textures were present in the single, they were less effective overall.

Available on THE GRID album ‘Electric Head’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.discogs.com/artist/5081-The-Grid


PET SHOP BOYS Being Boring (1990)

Partly inspired by a quote about Zelda Fitzgerald, novelist and wife of author F Scott Fitzgerald which stated “she refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn’t boring”, ‘Being Boring’ is one of PET SHOP BOYS’ best songs, reflecting on Neil Tennant’s youth and the loss of a friend who died of AIDS. While the single itself was almost five minutes long, the superior album version featured a fabulous intro that steadily built with a lilting synth bassline and wah-wah guitar that made the most of the song’s elegiac aura.

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Behaviour’ via EMI Records

http://petshopboys.co.uk/


DEPECHE MODE In Your Room (1993)

A tedious rockist statement by DEPECHE MODE when reworked by Butch Vig for single release, the lengthy original album version of ‘In Your Room’ was widescreen magnificence with a tense percussive drive courtesy of Alan Wilder who only played what was needed, adding a second simplistic drum passage in the final half for extra weight. A fine example of how feel is more important technique, current DM drumhead Christian Eigner managed to mess up his opportunity to shine on this during the ‘Global Spirit’ tour.

Available on the DEPECHE MODE album ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’ via Sony Music

http://www.depechemode.com/


LADYTRON Evil (2003)

The second LADYTRON album ‘Light & Magic’ is probably best known for its lead single ‘Seventeen’, but opening its second half was the brilliantly propulsive ‘Evil’. An obvious single, when remixed by noted dance producer Ewan Pearson, it was filled out with extra string synths and made more contemporary. This lost the track its appealing spatial dynamics and grunt while the way in which the vocals of Helen Marnie were mixed more than muted her charm.

Available on the LADYTRON album ‘Light & Magic’ via Nettwerk productions

http://www.ladytron.com/


ARTHUR & MARTHA Autovia (2009)

ARTHUR & MARTHA were Adam Cresswell and Alice Hubley; their debut single ‘Autovia’ was the first release on Happy Robots Records in 2008 but when it came to recording the album ‘Navigation’, the incessant Doctor Rhythm drum machine was given a more hypnotic Motorik makeover which ironically gave the track more drive. Meanwhile, there was an extended end section which allowed for some cosmic Theremin and synth wig-outs between the pair not unlike STEREOLAB meeting NEU!

Available on the ARTHUR & MARTHA album ‘Navigation’ via Happy Robots Records

https://www.facebook.com/arthurandmarthaband/


MESH Adjust Your Set (2013)

From MESH’s best album ‘Automation Baby’, the wonderfully metronomic ‘Adjust Your Set’ with its personal relationship commentary in a technology dominated world was one of its many highlights. Given a more orchestrated remix by Nico Wieditz for the MaBose Radio-Edit with a much busier electronic bassline along the lines of ‘Enjoy The Silence’, while this single version had more obvious presence, it lacked the eerie cinematic Morricone-esque air of the album original.

Available on the MESH album ‘Automation Baby’ via Dependent Records

http://www.mesh.co.uk/


GOLDFRAPP Ocean (2017)

‘Ocean’ was already dramatic perfection as the best track on the seventh GOLDFRAPP album ‘Silver Eye’, but for the single version, it was felt a contribution from a former member of the  Mute family was needed. While Devotees were wetting themselves over Dave Gahan appearing on a more obviously electronic sounding track again, his faux bluesy drawl was something of a mismatch next to the breathy angelic tones of Alison Goldfrapp. Gahan may be from Essex but he was certainly no Alison Moyet.

Available on the GOLDFRAPP album ‘Silver Eye’ via Mute Artists

https://www.goldfrapp.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
2nd January 2019

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